If your organisation runs a call centre, then perhaps it’s time to review
the levels of employee engagement, absenteeism and turnover.
The news that UK call centres are losing 10 million working days per year
due to sick days should serve as an alarm bell to any HR professional involved
in this type of operation.
Many employers have tried to overhaul the tarnished image of call centres as
low cost sweat shops by working hard on good people management practices, but
they must be in the minority if the latest Contact Centre Benchmarking Report
is to be believed.
Employee turnover in the sector is currently running at 25 per cent, much
higher than global attrition rates. This is hardly surprising given the fact
that this kind of work offers low job control over how tasks are done, use of
monitoring for disciplinary purposes and repeated interactions from demanding
customers. Impressive competition from overseas has also added to the pressure
on staff and management by forcing redundancies here.
Some 700,000 people will be working in UK call centres by 2005 and they will
need to feel involved, motivated and valued if they are to stay in the sector
and deliver quality services for the future. The call centre industry has
allowed itself to be hijacked by a mindset focused on price and nothing else,
and this has taken its toll on staff and the quality of service. The goal seems
to be survival rather than long-term business development.
Recruiting skilled people for call centres is not the issue – it is what
employers do with them once they are through the door, that needs addressing.
It’s heartening to see that Personnel Today’s efforts to overcome obstacles
to employment for refugees is benefiting employers in the health sector.
Our award-winning Refugees in Employment campaign called for the creation of
a skills database to help get people with particular competencies into work and
one has already been created for 200 refugee nurses. The Refugee Nurse
Taskforce offers return to work advice, information about UK qualifications and
The chronic shortage of medical personnel across the UK is of major concern,
but this kind of initiative makes a lot of sense, particularly as refugees have
a lot to offer our multi-cultural society.
By Jane King, editor